When it comes to hot Ford Falcons, they don’t get much hotter than the FPV F6. Producing 310kW of power and a mighty 565Nm of torque, the turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine is one of the world’s most powerful inline six-cylinder production car engines.
It’s a decade since the BA Ford Falcon introduced a turbo six-cylinder that gave buyers of locally built performance sedans something to think about beyond the traditional V8.
Now four years old, the latest-generation (FG) FPV range has undergone a minor facelift as part of the MkII Ford Falcon update. New graphite-coloured five-spoke 19-inch alloy wheels, FPV floor mats, projector headlamps and a revised front grille and fascia with mesh inserts are the extent of exterior changes, while the interior picks up an eight-inch colour touch screen with integrated reversing camera.
The only options on the F6 are leather seats, satellite navigation and premium brakes.
The F6s’s daring performance is matched by an equally daring exterior design. Greyed-out ‘racoon eyes’, an exposed front-mount intercooler and faux rear air outlets give the F6 a more distinctive presence on the road than your average Falcon fleet car.
Inside the cabin, body-hugging sports seats and a thickly sculpted steering wheel offer an open invitation to stretch the F6’s legs. The new eight-inch colour touch screen makes great use of available space and is within easy reach for the driver and front passenger.
Connectivity options include Bluetooth, iPod and USB. The optional satellite navigation replaces the clunky remote controlled system available in the MkI FPV range. Utilising SUNA Traffic Management technology, the navigation system is able to suggest alternative routes if there is congestion along the way. (The agreement struck between Ford and the provider of SUNA traffic management guarantees five years of service.)
FPV insignia on the steering wheel and seats, along with an individual build number stamp also aim to justify the F6’s $64,890 price tag.
Interior space, as ever, is in abundance. Front and rear passengers have enough room to stretch out, without feeling cramped like they would in other smaller performance cars in this price bracket – such as the Subaru Impreza WRX STI and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X.
Boot capacity of 565 litres is complemented by a full-size spare alloy wheel and 60:40 rear split fold seats.
But performance is this Falcon’s main selling point…
Once you overcome the pointless push-button start system – you still have to turn the key in the ignition switch before hitting the start button – to fire the F6 into life, it’s hard not to smile each time a prod of the throttle pedal is met with the turbocharged six-cylinder induction noise.
Offered with either a slightly clunky six-speed manual or a silky smooth ZF six-speed automatic, the F6 offers seemingly unlimited urge in any gear. Driveline refinement could be better, though, as lifting off the throttle at high engine speeds induces a thump.
The F6’s maximum torque of 565Nm is available from 1950rpm all the way through to 5200rpm. And that amount of grunt makes the engine so feisty that the F6 struggles to maintain grip during full-throttle starts. This is amplified in the wet where the experience approaches ludicrous if too much boost is called upon.
In the dry, though, straight-line speed is mind-bendingly enjoyable. The engine’s razor-sharp response is perfectly matched to the six-speed automatic gearbox, which is quick shifting and perfectly tuned. A manual shift mode and Sport mode allow the driver to maintain total control over torque delivery, regardless of the driving situation.
Although most car makers are now downsizing engines and adding turbocharging for improved fuel efficiency, the FPV F6 is still thirsty – with a slightly optimistic official combined fuel consumption figure of 12.3 litres of premium unleaded per 100km. At least it’s an improvement over the 14.2L/100km of the V8-powered FPV GS auto.
The F6 is like other performance Falcons in that the suspension set-up is softer than you might expect, so there's notable body roll through corners.
That provides a good trade-off for a surprisingly comfortable ride and handling is still good, complemented by well weighted and accurate steering - though the lack suffers from rack rattle in bumpy corners.
The F6 is also fitted with superb brakes and an impressively tuned stability control system. Up front, four-piston Brembo brakes measure 355x32mm with cross-drilled and slotted rotors delivering reassuring underfoot pressure, while the rear is serviced by single-piston Brembo cross-drilled and slotted rotors measuring 328x26mm.
Those after even more stopping power can opt for optional Brembo brakes with six-piston 355x32mm cross-drilled and slotted rotors up front and four-piston 330x28mm cross-drilled and slotted rotors at the rear (the F6 utility picks up single piston 328x66mm cross-drilled and slotted rotors at the rear).
The distinctive electronic stability program, developed in conjunction with global electronics specialist Bosch, offers enough flexibility for maximum power production with a small level of traction loss during take off and cornering. Unlike the multi-stage stability control system available in the HSV range, the FPV calibration is either on or off, with the latter reserved for the courageous or clinically insane.
Of course, for those individuals that wouldn’t be seen dead in anything with less than eight cylinders, there’s the 315kW supercharged V8 FPV GS or the 335kW supercharged V8 FPV GT, GT-P and GT-E.
CarAdvice would like to report it’s a similar situation at FPV, though Ford’s performance division refuses to provide sales figures.
One certainty is that resale values – the biggest running cost of ownership – is notably better for performance variants of the Falcon and Commodore.
After four years of ownership, you can expect the FPV F6 to retain around 57 per cent of its purchase value, compared with an entry level (XT) Ford Falcon, which only sees 38 per cent of initial value retention, according to residual experts.
That makes the F6 one of the more logical Ford Falcon purchases. At least for those Aussie performance sedan buyers who can live with fewer than eight cylinders.